BP pulls out of US advanced biofuels plant

BP has pulled out of plans to build a $300m plant in Florida that would have been capable of producing biofuel from hard to break down crops, dealing a major blow to US efforts to deliver so-called “second generation” biofuels.

The company announced in a statement yesterday that it would not be proceeding with the cellulosic ethanol plant in Highlands County, which was expected to be capable of producing 36 million gallons (136 million litres) of the fuel each year.

Instead, BP said it would refocus its US biofuels strategy on research and development as well as licensing its technology.

“Given the large and growing portfolio of investment opportunities available to BP globally, we believe it is in the best interest of our shareholders to redeploy the considerable capital required to build this facility into other more attractive projects,” said Geoff Morrell, BP vice president of communications.

The move follows Shell’s decision to back out of a similar commercial-scale plant in Canada intended to make ethanol from straw and plant waste. It also further shrinks BP’s alternative energy business to just two main operations focused on US wind power and ethanol made from Brazilian sugar cane.

However, BP is also still working on plans to develop a plant in Hull, North-East England, capable of processing local feed wheat into 420 million litres of bioethanol, and a biobutanol plant on the same site in partnership with DuPont.

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